Monday, April 22, 2013

Letter - MAS reviewing need to tweak framework

18 April 2013

Forum Page
Straits Times

I refer to the letter entitled "MAS reviewing need to tweak framework"
(ST 17 April).

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has stated that they currently do not 
regulate schemes that purport to be alternative investments and typically do not
involve an offer of securities.

I wish to point out that two categories of these investments could possibly fall 
under the existing framework that MAS is already responsible to supervise.

A few investment schemes involving the purchase of gold bars promise to return
a fixed rate of interest and the return of capital at the end of the period. This is akin
to taking deposits, which is already regulated by the MAS. The investors were not
buying the gold bars, which were priced above its real market value, but were enticed
by the higher promised return.

Several investment schemes were being promoted that involve the collection of money
from investors into a company to make lucrative investments in projects in emerging
markets. This is similar to the issue of securities. 

MAS has also stated that it is an offence under the law to operate a fraudulent or 
deceptive scheme. Where there are reasons to suspect fraud, they would refer the matter
to the Commercial Affairs Department for investigation.
Many members of the public, including those who have been defrauded, have asked the 
question on where it took so long for the authorities to act on some of these scams, which
had been allowed to carry on for years and to acquire the mantle of authenticity.

I urge the authorities to strengthen its human resources to investigate these suspected
frauds early and to adopt a more pro-active approach in dealing with them. 

For example, if there are reasons to believe that a fraud has been committed but the evidence 
may not be conclusive, they can still ask the operators to discontinue the activity or face a 
charge in court. This may be a sufficient deterrent. 

Let us act early to preserve the good reputation of Singapore as a law abiding country, where
investors find it safe to invest their money here.
Tan Kin Lian
Financial Services Consumer Association

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